The Gamecocks advanced to the NIT Championship game with a hard-fought 66-59 win over traditional power Syracuse at Madison Square Garden.
Carolina slumbered offensively in the first half, but was able to keep it close. USC trailed by only three, 29-26, at halftime despite the offensive woes.
A very exciting second half followed, with the two teams going back-and-forth with the lead. The game hung in the balance until Rolando Howell sank back-to-back baskets at the three-minute mark, pushing Carolina ahead for good, 63-59. A Tony Kitchings steal with 1:05 left sealed the fate of the Orangemen, as USC headed to the championship game to face Memphis, who edged Temple by a single point to advance.
Senior guard Aaron Lucas led the scoring parade for Carolina with 20 points. Tony Kitchings and Jamel Bradley added 13 each in the win.